Apr 1, 2020 - Health

Washington and California offer beacons of coronavirus hope

A nearly empty street in Los Angeles

Los Angeles. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Washington and California, which originally appeared to be epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., have slowed their surges of new cases — although it can't be ruled out that California is just behind on testing.

Why it matters: These states were early adopters of stringent social distancing measures, and these policies appear to be making a difference. That should offer us all fresh encouragement to keep staying home and practicing good hygiene.

Yes, but: As Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned yesterday during a White House coronavirus briefing, the numbers nationwide will likely get worse before they get better.

  • The U.S. is still adopting social distancing policies state-by-state, and there's a lag between when these measures are implemented and when people who have already been exposed begin to experience symptoms.
  • It then takes a few days for some of these people to need to be hospitalized, and then a few more days for deaths to rise.
  • This pattern will keep repeating until the virus stops spreading, which will continue as long as sick Americans continue to interact with healthy ones. But if we all stay home, that spread can't happen.

The bottom line: "In the next several days to a week or so, we're going to continue to see things go up. We cannot be discouraged by that, because the mitigation is working and will work," Fauci said.

  • Remember that things looked really bad in Washington and California a few weeks ago, too.
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